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Likert Scale: Definition, Examples & Analysis

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  • 0:01 Definition of a Likert Scale
  • 1:00 The Likert Scale vs.…
  • 1:33 Example and Analysis…
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that the term 'Likert scale' is named after University of Michigan sociologist Rensis Likert? In this lesson, you will learn more about Likert scales through a set of examples. Following the lesson, you can test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of a Likert Scale

Jake is a consultant who has just been hired by a company to improve its organizational structure. One of the first things that Jake decides to do is figure out how the employees feel about their jobs. Jake creates a short survey that each employee must complete. The survey has five statements that must be rated either 'strongly agree,' 'agree,' 'neutral,' 'disagree,' or 'strongly disagree.'

Jake has just created a Likert scale.

A Likert scale is a psychological measurement device that is used to gauge attitudes, values, and opinions. It functions by having a person complete a questionnaire that requires them to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with a series of statements. The Likert scale is named after its creator, Rensis Likert, who developed it in 1932. In survey research, Likert scales are the most commonly used type of scale. In the example earlier, those who completed Jake's survey had five different options to choose from to indicate the extent to which they agree with each statement.

The Likert Scale vs. the Likert Item

Many people confuse the terms Likert scale and Likert item. Each Likert scale consists of several Likert items. A Likert item is an individual statement or question which asks a person to indicated the extent to which they agree by choosing one of several ranked options. Likert items usually offer participants a choice between five and seven ranked options, with the middle option being neutral. In the example, Jake's survey is made up of five Likert items. Let's look at another example of a Likert scale.

Example and Analysis of a Likert Scale

Jennie is interested in researching the importance of social status in peer groups. She creates a Likert scale that consists of three Likert items. Jennie has four adolescents complete her survey and receives the following responses. How can she analyze her data?

popularity

The range of options in Likert scales are ordinal, which means that while they are ranked, the distance between two options is not necessarily equal. The difference between 'strongly agree' and 'agree' for one person may not be the same as the difference to another person. The difference between '1' and '2' on Jennie's survey is not the same as the difference between '2' and '3.' Likewise, the difference between 'strongly agree' and 'agree' is not necessarily the same as the difference between 'agree' and 'neutral.' For this reason, it's not a good idea to use the average as a method of analyzing Likert scales, although many researchers do. However, Jennie can analyze her data by looking at the mode and the median for each item.

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